Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Villa Escudero

Think of any tourist destination near your home and the likelihood of you not having visited it or did rarely visit the place is high. I would bet for this claim. It's surprising but it's true, sometimes we tend to miss an opportunity for too much familiarity. This holds true to my not having visited Villa Escudero despite being a native of San Pablo City, Laguna. My parent's home is roughly 15 minutes away from the place but I didn't have a single chance of visiting it while I'm still living there. To add more irony to it, my high school classmate belongs to the prominent family who owns the Hacienda. Many times I was invited by her for a day tour to which I will usually respond a procrastinating next time. Gladly, we finally found the luck to pop in.



General ambiance inside the Villa is relaxing, homey and serene. It's a typical laid back atmosphere to enjoy. If there's one thing that the Villa is highly commendable for, it's having maintained its distinctive "Filipino" offering. It could be one of the remaining few heritage sites to explore in the Philippines. This is one place to visit for Foreign and Balikbayan visitors. Among the must try are the carabao ride, lunch at the Labasin Falls and view of the cultural show.



Apart from the hits, of course we've likewise identified some misses. First, is the poor maintenance of the lake. The water is not clear and a lot of dried leaves and wastes made the overall look of the lake unsightly. The repertoire of the lunch buffet is less appetizing too. The meal selection is ok but the quality is far from what I have expected. It failed to meet the value of the day tour ( P1250). Overall, I feel that there's something missing in the experience. At any rate, it still is a must visit place. But it's not something you would miss every once in a while.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FaMEALy Day amidst the country's cataclysm


Yesterday was National FaMEALy Day. My husband and I celebrated dinner with the kids with their ever favorite "Lechon Manok and Mango Bravo dessert". As we were partaking in God's bounty, I can't help but stop eating once in a while and feel some guilt within. Here we are in our dining table blissfully sharing a wonderful meal, while a big part of the country is trapped in a catastrophe. Silently resting inside my head were questions on families in the midst of flash flood and who have not eaten yet, parents and children who were separated from one another by the terrifying flash flood and those people who have lost their homes and loved ones. These were certainly not good thoughts to be entertained while at the dining table. But the aftermath of typhoon ONDOY was really too much to bear. I can't even withstand the photos and videos of the news. They were more than heartbreaking and tragic.

Up until now, stories of difficult experiences roam around office tables and group talks. Rebuilding and recovery will take much longer for sure. Needless to say, it is high time to do all our share. Let's help the victims in any way we can. This prayer is for all of us.

Prayer for Civic Responsibility:

Dear Lord,
so often, we have turned our backs to the needs of others
because of our selfishness.
We have failed to the perfection
for which you have created us
because of our unfaithfulness.
Through your mercy, we ask that we may regain
all the graces which we have lost through
our carelessness and folly.

We hope that all others may regain any graces
they have lost through our own fault.
Recognizing that we have sinned through
omission, we hereby consecrate ourselves to you
and pledge participation in those activities,
civic and governmental,
for which we are qualified to lend assistance in the bettering
of conditions and elimination of sufferings
of our neighbors.

We will stand for all just authority,
against violence, and will use proper means
to exercise the talents you have given us
to aid mankind.
Bestow your blessings on all
our government officials so that
they may fulfill their duties and obligations
justly and wisely.

Amen.

FaMEALy Day amidst the country's cataclysm


Yesterday was National FaMEALy Day. My husband and I celebrated dinner with the kids with their ever favorite "Lechon Manok and Mango Bravo dessert". As we were partaking in God's bounty, I can't help but stop eating once in a while and feel some guilt within. Here we are in our dining table blissfully sharing a wonderful meal, while a big part of the country is trapped in a catastrophe. Silently resting inside my head were questions on families in the midst of flash flood and who have not eaten yet, parents and children who were separated from one another by the terrifying flash flood and those people who have lost their homes and loved ones. These were certainly not good thoughts to be entertained while at the dining table. But the aftermath of typhoon ONDOY was really too much to bear. I can't even withstand the photos and videos of the news. They were more than heartbreaking and tragic.

Up until now, stories of difficult experiences roam around office tables and group talks. Rebuilding and recovery will take much longer for sure. Needless to say, it is high time to do all our share. Let's help the victims in any way we can. This prayer is for all of us.

Prayer for Civic Responsibility:

Dear Lord,
so often, we have turned our backs to the needs of others
because of our selfishness.
We have failed to the perfection
for which you have created us
because of our unfaithfulness.
Through your mercy, we ask that we may regain
all the graces which we have lost through
our carelessness and folly.

We hope that all others may regain any graces
they have lost through our own fault.
Recognizing that we have sinned through
omission, we hereby consecrate ourselves to you
and pledge participation in those activities,
civic and governmental,
for which we are qualified to lend assistance in the bettering
of conditions and elimination of sufferings
of our neighbors.

We will stand for all just authority,
against violence, and will use proper means
to exercise the talents you have given us
to aid mankind.
Bestow your blessings on all
our government officials so that
they may fulfill their duties and obligations
justly and wisely.

Amen.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A thing of the Past and the Present: To the World of Bakery

If you've been a regular here, you probably have noticed that much of my food posts and recipes talked about the world of Culinary and Savory. Blame it to a decade of work in this field, my taste buds were oriented in the meaty- savory notes to a great deal. Now that I'm beginning to explore the other half of the sensory pie which is Sweet, I'm missing the customary taste of salt and umami. Hence, I found myself one morning stirring a bowl of noodles for a comforting treat. Much to my (and the kids) delight, we even consumed it with the exciting flavour notes of baked goods (shown above). I can only care less whether the dining table carried a perfect breakfast match or not. Ultimately, it's my (and the kids') liking that's chief.

On to my exploration of my new interest, I roamed around the city to have a glimpse of the bakery landscape in the Philippines. In general, it's a growing and stirring industry locally. There are so much trends going on. From the typical, traditional pandesal, Pinoys' bread had evolved to abundant forms and novel ways of consumption.

For the Boutique Bakery concept, BREAD TALK leads the way. I particularly like the fusion of "glo-cal" concepts here.

Fortune Bakeshop obviously taps the mainstream market. I know of some previous colleagues who are loyal patrons of this store's "Pianono" (chiffon roll).

For the hotel category, I would rank Shangri-la and Manila Pen as market leaders. These two, have bread stations that showcase various great selections of breads and pastries. I was particularly enticed by Shangri-la's positioning of "Baked Fresh" goodies. The hours of baking for a selected variety of bread is shown at the counter's area. It's a you have it when you expect it kind of thing.



The considered innovator in the field is French Baker. They recently launched the 100% whole grain bread which is being claimed as the first in the country. This is a complete, one stop bread shop for me.

For the chocolates, pastries and desserts, Dusit Thani's glass case is a haven of rich assortments. Don't you think so?!



And for the packaged goods, obviously Gardenia owns the leadership. Their product range is even exclusively shown at the express bread station of SM Makati.

As a whole from what I've noted, bread market today is dictated by eating habits, meal occasions, taste, health and nutrition and balanced price. The consuming public is on a quest to any of these opportunities. Having the right item to put in the shelves is key to marketability.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebrate FaMEALy Day at Home


Last year, together with millions of Filipinos across the globe, we joined in the celebration of Lucky Me!'s advocacy on FaMEALy occasion at home. It was that time of the year where all members of the family were encouraged to go home early to sit at the dining table. The TV campaign shows us clearly how valuable family meal occasions are. In fact, the recent ad is another eye opener - a "cut through" information specially for parents. Like how I mentioned in my previous post, I believe in the value of families eating together. The studies are quite alarming. Suffice it to say, conclusive enough that we must all live this advocacy. Read my previous post here.

Hence, this coming September 28, 2009 (monday), let's all join once again to celebrate FaMEALy Day at home!

Mama & Papa, Mom & Dad, Nanay & Tatay, Itay & Inay, don't forget to dine with the kids on monday night! Because the family that eats together, stays happy forever!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Chili Crab


One of the many things that put a certain trademark in a place or a country is food. When we seek for descriptors of a place we've been to, normally we associate it with the foods it is known for. And when we talk about the country - Singapore, what else will top the list of the most popular dish here other than CHILI CRAB?! When this scrumptious dish landed unto my palate the first time I visited Singapore, I am more than convinced that it is one kind of dish to crave for! So back at home, I exerted all efforts finding the right recipe of Chili Crab that would suit my sensorial tastants. After much trial and error from one pot to another, I've finally stirred one that's just right for my taste buds. As every liking and palate are unique in everyone, I would recommend to those who would try the recipe to modify it in any which way you might like. Just go ahead and experiment!

Chili Crab

Ingredients: 2 large crabs (cleaned and cut into halves), 1 tbsp chopped garlic, 2 tbsp chopped onion, 1 tbsp ginger (finely chopped), salt and pepper to taste, 3 tbsp olive oil, tomato sauce, (to your own liking), oyster sauce (to your own liking), tomato catsup (to your own liking), 1 tbsp chili-garlic sauce, 1 egg (beaten), 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolve in 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp brown sugar

Cooking Method: Lightly fry crabs in 2 tbsp olive oil until it turns red, set aside. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in remaining oil until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, oyster sauce, catsup, chili-garlic sauce and sugar. Allow to boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add cornstarch solution and mix well. Allow the sauce to slightly thicken. Add back the fried crabs and cook until the meat of the crab is almost done. Stir in the beaten egg.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

GUANGZHOU, CHINA



I just got back from a week long visit to Guangzhou, China, my first international travel for the year. Likewise, it was my first time in the southern part. Amazed, intrigued and surprised, that's probably how I will describe my experience exploring what's believed to be the southern economic hub. I was surprised that Guangzhou is fast becoming another of China's cosmopolitan area. From what I heard, it's considered the 3rd largest city next to Beijing and Shanghai. Building constructions are everywhere and style and architecture wise, it doesn't pale in comparison with those in the nearby Asian countries like Singapore. However, the outskirts of the city still has that remnants of conservative Chinese civilization. In Panyu District where I stayed most of the time, it has that particular ambiance. But more and more China is really well set to make its significant presence in the world.